For some of us, anyway.
Over the weekend I received a nice bit of news from the folks at TechnoLawyer. The editors were apparently impressed by my article on the $75 iPad stylus. (They didn’t say whether the impressions were positive or negative, and I’m not going to presume anything.) The editors chose my post as their BlawgWorld “pick of the week” and shared it with their readers.
I guess this really isn’t a “major award,” but it’s a lot better than the famous lamp from A Christmas Story. I appreciate the recognition.
When I purchased my iPhone 5s back in September, I also purchased the Apple leather case to go with it. The leather case offers a nice, tight fit, and it looks great. After a couple of months, though, I decided that a different case is needed. Usually I don’t think about reviewing things like cases here since there are so many of them on the market. But I’ve found one I’m liking quite a bit.
My basic gripe about the Apple case is that whenever I want to plug my iPhone into something using the headphone jack, it’s more likely than not I’ll have to remove the case. Why? Because the case has a small hole around the headphone jack, and just about anything other than ear buds gets blocked from making a secure fit. The case simply gets in the way. So, I end up leaving the Apple case off.
Now, putting the iPhone 5 in a case is a bit of a struggle for me. The iPhone 5s I have is simply beautiful on its own. You can tell the design team at Apple worked very hard at creating a work of art that happens to be a smart phone. There’s a big part of me that chafes at the idea of putting this beauty in any case at all.
On the other hand, a case is all but mandatory when I consider how easily I can drop the thing. When I consider that my four-year-old son’s dexterity can be worse than mine, I have to resign myself to covering up the gorgeous design. The Apple case appealed to me originally because of its small form factor. It barely adds anything to the iPhone’s dimensions. The problem with this case (aside from the headphone jack issue) is that it offers very little in the way of shock absorption. Indeed, it may offer no protection against drops onto hard surfaces.
Last week I was listening to a podcast, Security Now. The presenter, Steve Gibson, was raving about the iPhone 5 case he settled on. (He also struck a chord with me when he talked about admiring the design of the phone.) I was intrigued enough to go check the case out, and I’m glad I did.
Steve’s recommendation (after going through, he claims, about 50 different cases) is the Incipio DualPro. The case features a hard shell exterior with an interior of silicone. The combination of the two protects the phone from impacts and scratches. The case adds a little bulk to the phone, but not too much. It’s smaller than some of the other rugged cases out there. It’s a nice compromise of the need for protection and the need to keep the device size at a reasonable one.
The Incipio DualPro comes in a variety of colors and color combinations. I went with black on black, but there are enough combinations of fun and serious colors to satisfy most aesthetic interests.
The MSRP on this case is $29.99, but Amazon has them for $14.18 as of this writing [non-affiliate link]. It’s hard to beat that price. The DualPro just might be the best case out there. I’d be interested in hearing from others about their case selections. I won’t go the Steve Gibson route of trying 50-some cases, but I’m always happy to look at better options.
Some time last month I was listening to a Mac Power Users podcast, and co-host Katie Floyd mentioned that she had pre-ordered a $75 iPad stylus made by Adonit to work with Penultimate and Evernote. I was intrigued by the price: what kind of stylus could possibly justify a $75 price tag? Or did I simply hear that wrong? I’ve been using Penultimate and Evernote more and more lately, so I had to wonder if this stylus would be a good investment or a waste of money. Curious, I went over to the Evernote Marketplace to find out what I could.
The Adonit Jot Script Evernote Edition indeed bears a $75 price tag. And from what I could tell, the price tag might be appropriate. For one, the stylus resembles a real pen. No squishy rubber tip like the beloved Wacom Bamboo. In addition, the Jot Script doesn’t have the plastic disk found on the Adonit Jot Pro. The disk really helps you feel like you’re using a real pen on your iPad, but I’m always worried I’m going to break the thing off.
The Jot Script features a narrow, almost ballpoint pen like tip, as you can see from the photos at the Adonit web site. The Jot Script also features a very nice width, so it feels like a nice pen in the hand. For fountain pen users, it’s akin to the Lamy Safari or Sheaffer modern Balance pen.
What sets the Jot Script apart, though, is something called PixelPoint Technology. I’m not familiar enough with the inner workings of the technology to understand it, but from what I can tell the Jot Script uses a Bluetooth connection to sense what kind of iOS device you are using, and it adapts itself to the particular touch sense of the device’s screen. For example, an iPad has different screen sensitivity from an iPhone (sensitivity meaning something other than pressure sensitivity).
After reading all of this information, I was somewhat skeptical, but I thought I would take the plunge and see if the high price is truly justified. (Oh the things I do for my few dozen readers.) As I mentioned, I worry that I’m always going to break off the plastic disk on the Adonit Jot Pro. And, while the Wacom Bamboo has been my stylus of choice, the squishy rubber tip lacks precision and sometimes seems to “lose the connection” and not write at all on the iPad.
The Jot Script began shipping right around November 1, so it was waiting for me on Monday of this week when I returned from vacation. I won’t go into the details of unboxing, setting it up, or connecting it with particular apps. You can find that over at Adonit’s Get Connected page.
After just a few days of use, I’m almost a true believer. While I haven’t mastered the art of connecting the Jot Script to Penultimate yet (in terms of turning it on or turning it off), I have to say that the writing is far more accurate than I expected. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good for a stylus. I would say it is slightly more accurate than the Jot Pro I’ve used. It’s definitely more accurate than the Bamboo.
But is it worth $75?
In one sense, no. It’s better than the Jot Pro, but not more than twice the price of the Jot Pro. On the other hand, one could argue, you’re paying a premium price for a higher quality product. No plastic disk to fail/break/lose, higher accuracy in writing or drawing, and it’s a great design. In some ways, it’s like deciding to pick the iPad over an Android tablet. You pay a premium for the higher design aesthetic—and clearly many of us are willing to do that.
The premium price tag is going to prevent some people from trying the Jot Script, which is unfortunate. I think users need to spend more time with it than is possible when borrowing a colleague’s for a few minutes. It’s only after spending that additional time that the stylus starts to grow on you. (At first I was disappointed, but that disappointment faded away after a couple of days of use.) I predict, though, that those who are willing to move past the sticker shock will be pleased with the experience.
People know I’m generally an Apple fan boy. I love my Macs, my iPhone, my iPad. But I’m not blind to the reality that Apple, like any other company, can screw up. And it seems to me that Apple has really screwed up this month.
Amid all the fanfare about new iPads and OS X Mavericks, Apple also released new versions of its iWork suite: Pages (for word processing), Numbers (for spreadsheets), and Keynote (for presentations). I’ve been using the iWork applications since they were first released back in the mid-2000s. Each new revision brought helpful features and improvements.
If you take a look at the Pages discussions going on over at the Apple Support Communities, it isn’t pretty. The discussions about Numbers and Keynote are also looking bad.
From what I can tell, Apple decided to make the Mac versions of its iWork apps function “better” with the iOS versions of the same apps. In doing so, Apple took a lot of functionality out of the Mac apps. It’s one thing when an upgrade “moves” a feature so you can’t find it immediately, but it’s completely different when the upgrade deletes a feature—like the Styles drawer in Pages.
I’m a heavy user of Pages, working with it almost daily. I get into Numbers a couple of times a month, and I use Keynote on occasion. This upgrade, however, has left me gobsmacked. Just as iWork was beginning to become a serious replacement (not merely alternative) to the MS Office suite, Apple has hobbled it.
So, take some advice from me. If you use iWork apps on your Mac, and you haven’t updated to the new versions—DON’T. At least not until you put copies of those apps in a safe place. (I am SO thankful that I use the Mac OS X Time Machine. I just went back a couple of weeks and restored the prior versions of the apps. So far all seems to be well.) If you have installed the new versions, check your backups to see if you can restore the prior ones.
This is an “interesting time” for Apple (in the sense of the ancient Chinese curse). Is this going to turn out to be a moment like where Apple basically said, “No one is going to use floppy disks anymore. We’re not putting them in new Macs any longer”? Or will this turn out to be a moment like the Apple Maps iOS app disaster? I’m hoping it’s the latter and that some serious fixes are on the way.